Other people’s money to hire teachers (and administrators)

Vice President Joe Biden went to York, Pennsylvania to sell the teacher stimulus to fourth graders, notes Mark Steyn. Biden told the kids that York is broke, but the federal government can send money to hire teachers.

Public school employment has increased 10 times faster than enrollment since 1970, Steyn writes.

In 2008, the United States spent more per student on K-12 education than any other developed nation except Switzerland – and at least the Swiss have something to show for it. In 2008, York City School District spent $12,691 per pupil – or about a third more than the Swiss. Slovakia’s total per student cost is less than York City’s current per student deficit – and the Slovak kids beat the United States at mathematics, which may explain why their budget arithmetic still has a passing acquaintanceship with reality. As in so many other areas of American life, the problem is not the lack of money but the fact that so much of the money is utterly wasted.

York schools employed 440 teachers and 295 administrative and support staff in 2006 (the most recent data available), Steyn writes.

For every three teachers we “put back in the classroom,” we need to hire two bureaucrats to put back in the bureaucracy to fill in the paperwork to access the federal funds to put teachers back in the classroom.

 . . . when a nation of 300 million people presumes to determine grade-school hiring and almost everything else through an ever more centralized bureaucracy, you’re setting yourself up for waste on a scale unknown to history.

The teacher jobs bill doesn’t have unified Democratic support or any Republican support, so it’s not going to happen.

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  1. If you’re going to define taxpayer money as “other people’s money”, when aren’t public schools funded with “other people’s money”?

  2. I think the point is the difference between the local tax funds and national funds. While there are individuals paying local school taxes that do not benefit (childless adults and elderly, for example), the idea is that they have a more direct role in the spending and allocation of their money through budget and board votes.
    Federal funding, on the other hand, takes money from individuals and sends it to school districts that they have never, nor will ever, hear of. Not only that, but every level of bureaucracy will diminish the level of funding to support itself, making the whole thing less and less efficient.
    Plus, many federal-level policians constantly act like the federal government pulls money out of a magic hat, and fail to realize that it is coming from taxpayers including those that it is supposed to “save.” I do wonder how funding would work out for districts if the federal DOE was abolished and the matching taxation was reduced, allowing states and local districts to directly tap the increased tax base. Does the DOE parasitise school taxes so much that it harms more districts than it helps?

  3. Kirk Parker says:

    York schools really have a teacher::other ration of less than 2::1? Really????

    • What’s so tough to believe about that?

      All that money’s got to go somewhere and it’s certainly not going to better educate kids. What’s left but a bloated and burgeoning bureaucratic population as a way to dispose of all that money?